SEARCH REVIEWS    LIVING WITH LATE FEES    FEATURES    LINKS    BIO    MISSION    EMAIL    MAIN PAGE >


Skeleton Warriors - Ray Harryhausen
Go Hero

Skeleton Warrior Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure


As a kid growing up in Detroit, one of my fondest television memories is of rainy Saturday afternoons plopped in front of the tube watching Sir Graves Ghastly. It was through this show that I received my introduction to most horror and sci-fi films, which would turn into a full scale obsession for the rest of my life.

Some of the best were the work of Ray Harryhausen, master of stop motion monsters. Films like 20 Million Miles To Earth (with the reptilian Ymir) and It Came From Beneath The Sea (with its giant octopus), were Saturday afternoon favorites.

Harryhausen's work lives on with the more cartoony films like Chicken Run or Coraline, but it's not truly the same. His work was intended to create realistic characters in live action films, a role that's been taken over by CGI in modern films. And I miss it.
Skeleton Warriors Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure
Skeleton Warrior Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Skeleton Warrior Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Skeleton Warrior Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Skeleton Warrior Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Skeleton Warrior Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Skeleton Warrior Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Skeleton Warrior Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure by Go Hero
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Skeleton Warrior Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Skeleton Warrior Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Skeleton Warrior Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Skeleton Warrior Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure

To see how well he accomplished this, just check out the classic sword battle in Jason and the Argonauts with the Skeleton Warriors. Considering the year, this is some of the best special effects you'll ever see.

Go Hero (makers of the uber-cool retro Flash Gordon and the Atomic Disintegrator) has teamed up with Blue Water Productions to bring you a number of cool figures featuring Harryhausen's work, including the skeletons.

These are called a 'limited edition', but I have no actual production numbers on either the regular version or the exclusive. The regular can be had for less than $50 at a number of retailers (check my Where to Buy section at the end of the review for more info), and Zoloworld offers the exclusive for $75.

Bear in mind that while I mention Jason and the Argonauts, as well as other Harryhausen classics, these figures aren't technically based on the films, but rather the comic book series "Ray Harryhausen Presents" from Blue Water.

Packaging - ***
The boxes are fairly straightforward, with photos of the figures themselves and some basic text. The big plus is that they do a good job protecting the figures and they are completely collector friendly, allowing you to remove the figure for display without any damage.

Sculpting - ***1/2
One of the features of the Harryhausen skeletons was that the skulls weren't simply human skulls, showing no emotion or attitude. He added a furrowed brow line, high distinctive cheeks, and slightly oval eye sockets to give the character an foreboding, evil, snarling appearance, making them even more menacing.

Go Hero has replicated that beautifully here. This isn't just a skeleton that would hang in an anatomy  classroom - this is a skeleton with malice in his heart, if he had one.

The sculpting of the bone itself is very, very realistic, with pitting and scarring that you'd expect to see on a very old, almost petrified skeleton. This is particularly well done on the body and limbs.

There's some liberties taken with actual human anatomy - the sternum looks more like a spine, for instance - but these changes match the source material pretty well. Remember, these are actually based on the comics/graphic novels from Blue Water, not the actual films, but the overall appearance is very similar.

The regular head sculpt is very, very sharply defined. In fact, it's so sharply defined that the lower guns actually look like a second set of teeth. That's partly due to the sharp sculpt, and partly due to the heavy wash, and it's my only fault with the sculpting on the regular version.

The exclusive version is a slightly more 'melted' look, with the nose, cheeks, and eye sockets a bit more rounded and smooth. This slightly smoother sculpt means that the gum line no longer looks like a second set of teeth, but I'm not a huge fan of the smooshed nose. Again, this one small issue is all that holds it back from a perfect four star sculpt for me.

Both stand pretty well on their own, and at almost exactly 12" tall will fit in with most other sixth scale figures. Technically they should be slightly shorter, but since they're going for a menacing look here, not anatomical accuracy, I think the size is just about perfect.

Paint - Exclusive ****; Regular ***1/2
The paint work is great on both, with one minor quibble on the regular version.

The exclusive has a liberal coating of Glow in the Dark paint, so much so that I found it rubbing off. There's a lot here though, so even with some ending up on my hands, there was still plenty to give a nice, bright glowing appearance to the entire skeleton. I've included one glowing shot just to show you how creepy he looks - imagine waking up to that staring down at you from a shelf in the middle of the night!

Even ignoring the excellent GITD feature, the exclusive has a great paint job. Both figures use a heavy wash to bring out the sculpted age effects on the bones, and for the most part it works great.

I do think that it's a little too heavy on the regular version on the skull, particularly around the jaw where it makes the indented gum line look like a second set of teeth. But as I said, this is really a minor quibble, especially in person.

While the paint ops on the sword and spear are pretty basic, the shields look amazing. I'll discuss it further in the accessories section, but the realistic weathering and detailed creature on the front really adds a lot to the overall presentation of the figure.

Articulation - **
The original figures were a metal armature about 8 - 10" high, covered with cotton dipped in latex to create the bone appearance (or so says this site). They were very posable, and the sequence from Jason and the Argonauts is one of my all time favorite sword battles, right up there with Tyrone Power vs Basil Rathbone in Mark of Zorro, and Carey Elwes vs Mandy Patinkin in Princess Bride.

These figures are not nearly as articulated as the originals, and this is their biggest flaw. The joints are generally classic ball style, with a rounded post on one piece fitting into a hollow socket on the other.

The neck and waist work well, allowing for some tilting and turning and plenty of personality. The shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles aren't as good, and this is largely due to the sculpt itself. The edges of the bones at the joints don't allow for the pieces to move freely, getting in the way and binding them up.

This is particularly annoying at the elbows and shoulders because the arms end up with far less mobility than you'd expect or need. I found posing him in convincing ways with the shield difficult, and with the weapons it was only slightly better.

He does stand fine on his own though in basic stances, and the feet and legs are very sturdy.

There's one more joint as well - his jaw. This joint is quite loose though, so that if you pose the head in an upward look, the jaw drops open automatically. Working a little super glue into the jaw joints would help, but shouldn't be necessary.

Accessories - ***
He comes with two weapons, and an extra set of hands.

The hands he comes wearing in the box are designed for battle. The left is in a gripping pose, while the right is permanently sculpted holding the shield.

The extra set has a pointing left hand, and a relaxed pose right. The hands swap pretty easily, but be careful with that pointing finger - it can snap off pretty easily!

There are two weapons - a sword, and a spear. Originally, these were to be diecast metal, but cost and safety issues caused Go Hero to go with plastic. The sword is the better of the two, having a more realistic and deadly appearance. The spear looks a bit like a Fisher-Price version, and I'm betting most folks will swap it out for something from another line of figures. For example, the various warriors from Ignite have some really cool spears that would look great here. Just be mindful that anything too heavy is going to be difficult for these bony arms to hold aloft for any period of time.

I'd like to make a special note on the exceptional paint job on the shield. Both versions look amazing, with a tremendous amount of detail and very realistic weathering. The shields in the film were adorned with Harryhausen creatures from other films, but alas that's not the case here. Still, the images are done in a very similar style, reminiscent of the film look.

Outfit - **1/2
When I say 'outfit', I'm talking just about the tattered black cape that comes with each warrior.

Making this removable is a critical point of course, since if you army build with a few of these you'll want to have them both with and without.

The material is very thin, which is not a problem - in fact, I prefer it, since it doesn't weigh the figure down or create any posing issues. The thinness does create one issue, but it's not one you probably guessed. When you handle it, you end up generating a lot of static electricity, so the cape becomes a magnet for fuzzies and other clingers. I'm not sure how that will effect the accumulation of dust over time, but you might want to spritz it with some Static Guard just to be safe.

It doesn't have a seam along the edge either, which means you'll end up with lots of frayed and loose threads. You'll want to keep the handling down to a minimum, but I'm also good with that. This is supposed to be a rag, a forgotten vestige of the warriors past life. As such, it should be pretty badly beat, and the frayed edge adds to the look. In fact, since it's going to wear and fray differently for everyone, it gives it a bit of a unique look as well.

The score takes a pretty big hit from the method used to secure the ragged cape around his neck. There are two small Velcro squares, held in place only with a sticky fabric glue.

These don't stay on as tightly as I'd like, and in fact my regular version came with the two little triangles stuck to his jaw, and not the cape. They'd come loose in the box and traveled where they pleased, and it was sheer luck that I found them.

Then came the problem of figuring out where best to put them. It was easy for me, since I had the second exclusive version handy and I could use that for a reference. If your's comes loose, you can refer to the photo at the left where I've circled the location of the Velcro spots.

Once I put the Velcro back in place, it worked great for holding the cape in place. However, the Velcro is tougher than the glue, so if you remove the cape be sure to hold the Velcro in place whilst doing so.

I understand the need to use the glue because the cape material is so thin. Threads wouldn't hold, leaving other options like snaps out of the question. Still, it is the one issue that holds the cape back from a much higher score.

It's worth noting that the capes aren't from Jason and the Argonauts, and I don't remember the single Skeleton Warrior from Sinbad having a cape either, so I'm assuming these are from the comic books. In any event, they add a cool look to the figures.

Fun Factor - ***
While these can be a little fragile (especially the hands), I can also see kids with a penchant for evil skeletons having a great time with them. The cape wouldn't last very long, and they'd need some help swapping hands, but at $45 they aren't quite as far out of the realm of the possible for the 10 year old crowd.

Value - Regular ***; Exclusive **
When was the last time you picked up a specialty market sixth scale action figure for less than $50?  I'm pretty sure there was a Bush in the White House, and it wasn't W.

While not everything on the regular release is perfect, I have to say that the price is right, especially since you can find the guy for around $45 at many retailers.

The Zoloworld exclusive is more limited, although knowing how limited would go a long way to making the price tag seem less painful. He also has the more expensive GITD paint application, and I have to say they did a bang up job with it. Still, at $30 more than a regular version, he's a much tougher sell.

Things to Watch Out For -
Be very careful when you pop any of the joints on or off, especially the hands. The fit is pretty tight, so it takes a little pressure to accomplish it, and it's easy to break that pointing finger in particular.

Overall - ***
I like these quite a bit, and may have to pick up a couple more to create an army, or at least a small mob. They'll fit in great with the Ignite figures too, and while I have only a passing interest in the humans announced so far (Perseus and Sinbad), I'm very much interested in further Harryhausen monsters, like Ymir and the Cyclops.

I really wanted to give these guys another half star, especially at this price point, but the articulation is a bit too restrictive for me to go that far. It's really the only major issue in an otherwise great looking pair of bone buddies.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - Regular ****; Exclusive ***1/2
Paint - Exclusive ****; Regular ***1/2
Articulation - **
Accessories - ***
Outfit - **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - Regular ***; Exclusive **
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
You can buy the regular from Go Hero direct for $50, or snag the GITD Exclusive from Zoloworld for $75. Other options for the regular version include:

- Alter Ego Comics has them for $45.

- Urban Collector also has them at $45.

- Entertainment Earth has them at $50.

- Big Bad Toy Store has them at $60.

- Sideshow is also carrying it for $50.

- or you can search ebay for a steal.

Related Links -
I've looked at two other Go Hero products so far - their very, very cool Buck Rogers, and the full scale Atomic Disintegrator!

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

Enjoyed this review? Be sure to head back to the main page to find thousands more just like it!

KEEP SCROLLING DOWN FOR MORE PHOTOS!



Share this review with others! 
  Digg it!    StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!      Reddit

Skeleton Warrior Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts sixth scale action figure


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2000 - 2010, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Click here for copyright permissions! Hosted by 1 Hour Hosting.com